LOS ANGELES — A permanent council of transgender community leaders has been appointed to advise the city on how to best serve the needs of transgender Angelenos.
Mayor Eric Garcetti joined City Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell and Mike Bonin, Controller Ron Galperin, and members of the Human Relations Commission at City Hall March 15 to announce the creation of the new council.
Working under the Human Relations Commission, the Transgender Advisory Council will advise the Office of the Mayor, the City Council, city departments and other elected officials on projects and policies that address critical issues facing the transgender community — such as economic development, public safety, accessibility and public awareness.
“Today, the city of Los Angeles sends a clear message to transgender Angelenos: your voices matter and your experiences count,” Garcetti said. “The nine members of our Transgender Advisory Council will bring a new and important perspective to City Hall that will help empower trans Angelenos to lead stigma-free, productive, and meaningful lives.”
“I welcome the establishment of the Transgender Advisory Council,” Galperin said. “I look forward to working with its members to transcend stereotypes and transform our city into a more welcoming place to live, to grow up, to work, and to thrive.”
“I am proud of the work we are doing to improve race and gender relations, and this new advisory council will help direct discussion at every level of city government,” O’Farrell said. Those in the transgender community are among the most misunderstood and marginalized in all of society, and as their brother in the effort to elevate issues of fairness and equality for everyone, it is important that no community is left behind in the city of Angels.”
“The Transgender Advisory Council will help ensure the Mayor’s office, the City Council and the Human Relations Commission are hearing from people who live every day with the stigma and disrespect we are seeking to overcome,” Bonin said. “The progress we have made toward equality in the last few years has been historic, but we are far from done.”
“The Transgender Advisory Council is being created to provide a greatly improved quality of life for all transgender individuals visiting, living and working in the city of Los Angeles,” said Karina Samala, an inaugural member of the Transgender Advisory Council and a longtime LGBT activist.
On March 14, President Barack Obama appointed the first transgender person, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, to serve as the White House LGBT liaison.
According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, a study released in 2012 by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, the unemployment rate for trans people is twice that of the general population, and nearly four times as high for transgender people of color.
When unemployed, transgender people are twice as likely to become homeless or turn to street-based economies like sex work or selling drugs and are 85 percent more likely to become incarcerated, and twice as likely to become infected with HIV.
The survey also found that 90 percent of employed trans people reported that they have experienced harassment, mistreatment,or discrimination.
Members of the Transgender Advisory Council were selected from a blind application process that was based on criteria determined by the Human Relations Commission. In addition to Samala, council members include Diana Feliz Oliva, Jaden Fields, James Wen, Jazzmun Crayton, Justine Gonzalez, Talia Bettcher, Terri Jay and Zoey Luna.